& cplSiteName &

Orange on the Partner Hunt in Silicon Valley

Sarah Thomas
10/29/2013
50%
50%

SAN JOSE -- Digital Disruption -- Orange has realized in the past 5-7 years that innovation has to come from both inside and outside the company, but it's leaning more toward outside these days.

Speaking on a panel here Tuesday, Georges Nahon, CEO of Orange Silicon Valley, the US arm of France Télécom, explained how the process of innovation has evolved at the Paris operator. It has its Orange Vallée subsidiary working on innovative communications apps inside, but it recently expanded its focus to look outside its walls and even outside its home country. (See: Innovation Makes Life Better for Orange and Is Orange Really Innovating?)

The company has had a Silicon Valley presence for years to be closer to the developer community. This May, it welcomed its inaugural class of startups as part of its Fab accelerator program, in which developers spend three months at Orange labs building new services that leverage the Orange network. (See: 'Orange Fab' Has Its First Startups and Euronews: Orange Hatches Startups.)

Rod Randall, executive partner at the private equity firm Siris Capital, joined Nahon on stage and talked up the power of investing outside the company to acquire talent. But Nahon said Orange is most interested in partnering, signing distribution deals, and potentially building special features today.

"We are being approached all the time about investors that want to see Orange be an acquirer in an existing company," he said. "We are a network services provider. We operate network services. We aren't an Apple creating devices. The network business is very resilient."

Sure, you can disrupt the network, Nahon said; voice is still there, even if it isn't what it used to be. But Orange is more interested in complementing what assets it does have with people who develop services on the periphery of its core business. "I don’t see ourselves getting into product design and manufacturing," he said. "The reason we want to invest in services companies is this is the other side of the network business, the people from the cloud and apps business. These are nice combinations. We don't converge; we combine."

Most of the innovation Orange has seen coming out of Silicon Valley has centered on mobile services, rather than infrastructure, but Nahon said the evolution to software-defined networking has shifted the focus. Young entrepreneurs think they can do telecom without the telcos or just build over the top of their networks -- and a good number of them have -- but Orange's goal with the Fab program is to show them the benefit of a partnership. One example he cited was a cloud-based call center that uses big data analytics behind the scenes to understand callers. Orange decided to partner with this company to co-brand and co-market the service.

The overall roadmap in terms of what services it develops is decided by Orange's top management in Paris, Nahon said, but with many more inputs than would have happened in the past. Part of that process is this new practice of talking to people and companies it hasn't talked to in the past but that might bring value to the industry. "You just can't put everything on a roadmap. You need to be prepared to disrupt the roadmap at some point."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/3/2013 | 5:34:29 PM
Re: Competing for partners
These are all very valid points. However I think that one of the larger issues faced by app developers is simply access to the carriers infrastructure.

Apps that leverage existing API's or unpublished capabilities lying on the fringe of he network are one thing, but the possibilities that lie in the network "crypt" are extremely difficult and timeconsuming to gain access to, even for the carriers internal "innovation" development.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
10/29/2013 | 6:16:43 PM
Re: Competing for partners
Good point. It seems like if you're a developer with an innovative idea, you have a lot of options in front of you. But, if you are a developer with an innovative idea, I'm not sure an operator incubator is your first choice. I think it depends how far along you are and whether you want VC funding or to be acquired or to become an operator partner. Interesting, too, that it'd rather partner than acquire, although I wonder if it's eyeing exclusive or white-label-style partnerships.
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
10/29/2013 | 6:13:24 PM
Competing for partners
Given that every large service provider I talk to now says they are looking to be better partners to innovative applications and services companies, I wonder if any of these companies are being pursued by multiple carriers. 

I did like his frank assessment of what Orange is and what it isn't. 
From The Founder
The time has come for a telecom app store to save the industry.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Intel's Take on Network Transformation

5|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In this BCE 2017 keynote, Lynn Comp discusses Intel's vision for areas such as analytics, automation and service assurance. For more videos and BCE coverage, see http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
Order From Chaos: The Steve Saunders BCE Keynote

5|24|17   |   17:27   |   (0) comments


Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability testing.
Think of this as the video sequel to the recent columns he's written about NFV and the prospect of a telecom app store. (See

LRTV Documentaries
Service Provider Panel: Partnering in the Digital Era

5|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Coopetition has always been part of telecom, but the ecosphere now includes data centers, vendors, apps developers, cloud service providers and Internet content providers. This BCE 2017 panel explores the new attitudes among network operators as to the value and variety of ...
LRTV Interviews
Site Demo: AT&T's IoT Flow Platform

5|19|17   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


At AT&T's R&D center in Tel Aviv, Israel, project leader Eyal Segev talks about the operator's Flow platform and how it helps to prototype IoT applications.
LRTV Documentaries
Agent of Change: A Q&A With AT&T's John Donovan

5|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


Carol Wilson talks with the man leading AT&T's transformation efforts about the challenge of change.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE Service Provider Panel: The New Business Realities

5|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


For virtualization to happen, the telecom industry first has to grapple with key functional aspects of SDN and NFV that need to be universal, such as onboarding of virtualized network functions and federation of software-defined networks.
LRTV Interviews
BCE Service Provider Keynote: CenturyLink

5|16|17   |   22:32   |   (0) comments


Aamir Hussain leads the Product Development and Technology organization at CenturyLink, which includes the company's information technology function. He is an experienced senior technology executive with more than 25 years of proven success in the implementation of global technology operations, operationalization of complex technology, infrastructures and business ...
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink CTO on Transformation

5|16|17   |   7:43   |   (0) comments


The 80-year-old telco has already gone through several transformations, including every time it made an acquisition, but its purchase of Level 3 coupled with changes in technology and customer expectations necessitates its biggest transformation yet.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2017

5|15|17   |   5:05   |   (1) comment


Find out who made it into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Interviews
Site Visit: AT&T's Tel Aviv R&D Center

5|15|17   |   09:58   |   (1) comment


Nir Shalom, general manager and VP of application development at AT&T Israel, talks about the key service developments undertaken at the AT&T R&D facility in Tel Aviv and how the team there has adopted new ways of working.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Act on Your Intelligence With Amdocs aia!

5|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Amdocs CMO Gary Miles explains how communications service providers can seize the AI opportunity with Amdocs real-time digital intelligence platform.
LRTV Interviews
Logtel CEO: Making Sense of IoT

5|15|17   |   09:48   |   (0) comments


Jacques Bensimon, founder and CEO of Tel Aviv-based training and consultancy Logtel, talks about the need to make IoT more than just a buzzword.
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
AT&T's Donovan: Women Adapt Faster Than Men
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 5/18/2017
Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/23/2017
Sonus & Genband Finally Combine to Form $745M Company
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2017
What's Blocking 4K TV Today
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 5/22/2017
Fright Wigs & Cocktails: BCE 2017 in Pics
Mitch Wagner, Editor, Enterprise Cloud, 5/19/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
What Brogrammers Look Like to the Rest of Us Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.